…to the real world. In today’s tech-loving, connected existence, leaving the house without a phone in hand is almost as crazy as forgetting to put your pants on. People feel naked without their cells. I love mine just as much as everyone else, but I’ve always made a concerted effort to put it in off mode when interacting with people. With inventions like WhatsApp and Viber, friends can afford to stay in touch even when they’re thousands of miles apart. That is terrific for preserving relationships at home, but it’s causing them to miss part of the joy of travel. Sure you can admire the Colosseum on Pinterest, but there’s nothing quite like taking in this ancient wonder without adverting your eyes to text your friends about the experience. Say you want to spice up your life and learn about the culture by dating overseas? When out and about, many of the girls contributing their romantic, true stories to my book, Meeting European Men, only used their phones when charming guys wanted to put their numbers in them. I recently read about a student whose laptop was damaged during study abroad. She explained, “I was devastated at first, wondering to myself, ‘How will I know what’s going on at home? How will I Skype my friends?” But she confessed that as time went on, “I began to go out more, no longer running home from class to hop online.” Now is the time when a lot of students are thinking about heading off for a spring semester abroad after the holidays. Before you take that flight, consider this girl’s advice… “Get rid of your smartphone. The whole point of studying abroad is to immerse yourself in the culture, the people, the language. Once you have Skype, Facebook and constant calls…I think it really takes away from the experience and becomes a huge distraction.” To me, this advice is a bit too drastic. A phone is a necessity for emergencies. Friends and family are an important part of your life that should not be abandoned. So take your phone, but take time to power down and open yourself up to life’s possibilities.
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